What Is the Process of Being Sued for a Debt?


Quick Answer

The process of a being sued for a debt begins when a creditor files a complaint with the court outlining the reason for the lawsuit and providing the information needed for the defendant to file a response, Nolo explains. The complaint includes the amount the creditor requests in the judgment, including any interest, attorneys fees and court costs. The creditor then serves the defendant with a copy of the complaint and a summons to appear in court.

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Full Answer

Courts generally require that the plaintiff delivers the summons to the defendant personally, but some courts allow service by mail, explains Nolo. Typically, the defendant must respond to the complaint within 20 to 30 days. Many courts impose a fee for filing the response, but if the defendant cannot afford it, the court may waive the fee.

Preparing a response to a debt lawsuit is often difficult, so some defendants hire an attorney to assist in their defense. However, if the cost of hiring an attorney is more than the amount of the lawsuit, the defendant can represent himself. If the creditor has violated the law, an attorney may take the case on a contingency basis, which means that the attorney does not receive a fee unless the defendant receives a monetary judgment in the case, Nolo notes.

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